John the Fisherman

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About John the Fisherman

"John the Fisherman" is the debut single by the alternative metal band Primus, released first in 1989 on the live album Suck on This, then re-released a year later, this time on the studio album Frizzle Fry. The band's frontman Les Claypool said of the song: "John the Fisherman" was written so long ago. I like to write about things I know about so that I don’t sound like a dipshit talking over my head. I fish. Some dads take their kids to football games or baseball games. My dad took me fishing. That’s what we did, almost every weekend. My uncle, my grandfather, that’s what we did. It’s a big part of my history. So, for me, it was always easy to write about. These fishing songs kept popping up, themes about the ocean, and it made it like a chronicle, a subdivision of our body of work. The live version of "John the Fisherman" that appears on Suck on This contains an intro consisting of the intro to the 1981 Rush instrumental "YYZ". 


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When he was young you'd not find him doing well in school,
His mind would turn unto the waters.
Always the focus of adolescent ridicule,
He has no time for farmer's daughters.
Alienated from the clique society,
A lonely boy finds peace in fishing.
His mother says John this is not the way life's supposed to be.
Don't you see the life that you are missing?
And he says
When I grow up I want to be,
One of the harvesters of the sea.
I think before my days are done,
I want to be a fisherman.
Now years gone by we find man that rules the sea.
He sets out on a dark May morning .
To bring his catch back to this small community.
He doesn't see the danger dawning.
Four hours up, oh the ocean swelled and swelled,
The fog rolled in it started raining.
The starboard bow. Oh my God we're going down!
They do not hear his frantic mayday.
And he says
When I grow up I want to be,
One of the harvesters of the sea.
I think before my days are done,
I want to be a fisherman.
I'll live and die a fisherman.
Calling John the fisherman.

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Primus is an American rock band based in San Francisco, California, currently composed of bassist/vocalist Les Claypool, guitarist Larry "Ler" LaLonde and drummer Jay Lane. Primus originally formed in 1984 with Claypool and guitarist Todd Huth, later joined by Lane, though the latter two departed the band at the end of 1988. Featuring LaLonde and drummer Tim "Herb" Alexander, Primus recorded their debut, Suck on This in 1989, followed by four studio albums; Frizzle Fry, Sailing the Seas of Cheese, Pork Soda, and Tales from the Punchbowl. Alexander left the band in 1996, replaced by Bryan "Brain" Mantia, and Primus went on to record the original theme song for the TV show South Park and two more albums, Brown Album and Antipop, before declaring a hiatus in 200… more »

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